Monday, March 29, 2010

Busting Sod

Every March I try to get outside to bust sod. The weather in March is at its most temperamental—all the seasons can happen in one month—snow, sleet, rain, high winds, sunshine. This Friday it’s supposed to be 70 degrees but snow threatens the week after. Not that the weather isn’t temperamental all year round in Buffalo.

The year I moved here, the snow fall reached 7 ft in 2 days. I complained to my mother who was in Seattle at the time. She said, “The weather is the wonder there and if you don’t start appreciating it, you best move.” Since she’s moved here, I’ve repeated this to her so often, she wishes she never said it.

But she was right.

And from that perspective, March is truly the most wondrous month of all.

So far I’ve only gotten one day to bust sod. I’m planning on building a raised vegetable garden. My pumpkins last year, grew over the fence into my neighbor’s backyard. Vegetation grows in abundance here. This year, I want to plant a Three Sister’s Garden—beans, squash, and corn.

Our backyard is typical for South Buffalo, a long rectangle, sunken in the middle, two chain link fences and ol’ rickety wooden one, and a blacktop driveway leads to a small garage. Dave and my father often sit in the back and reminisce about their South Buffalo boyhoods when they ran the fence line hopping from garage to garage, squirreling their way through the neighborhood. There’s a 35 year age difference between them yet it’s the same reminiscence. I don’t want them to put ideas into my son Sam’s head.

Last week, Sam and I began to bust the sod in the backyard or rather I busted up the sod and he collected worms. Busting sod is simple. I dig into the recently thawed, moist ground with a shovel; unearth the matt of grass along with a hunk of dirt. I shake the dirt from the roots, toss the grass away and then break up the clumps of loam. I plow my fingers through the loose soil and plop the worms into the palm of Sam’s waiting hand. Later we’ll sit in the kitchen and watch the robins peck through the dirt pile for those same worms.

No matter how many times the weather throws a temper tantrum and interrupts the spring, the robins, the return of the geese, the crocuses and pussy-willows a bloom let me know that spring is marching in. That same day we saw the robins bobbing for worms, I caught our neighbors’ daughter Ella on our swing set. Hers is much nicer but the grass is always greener (no matter how busted up) over the chain link fence. It’s not only the pumpkins that know no boundaries. She had twisted the chain on the swing and then let it take her on a spin. Yet another sign of spring.

There is something about doing the same thing every year: Digging that shovel into the sod, breaking up the dirt and running my fingers through the cold ground that seems to break up time itself. Time stops being linear. All these moments—Ella on the swing, Sam and I digging for worms, my father and husband reminiscing—begin to seem as though moments can be magnetized. They attract one another until they clump together—moments from this spring and previous ones and the ones I imagine in the future. I hear those moments clicking together as if every spring was happening at this very moment.


Margaret said...

Well put. Makes me want to get out there.

John said...

I see on the news that your area has had quite a bit of rain. I know what that's like we have had floods around here from time to time. Hope you guys did not suffer much or any damage.